Chicken issue comes home to roost before Will County committee
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com September 11, 2012 2:56PM
Manoalani Ramirez, 4, peeks into the chicken coop on the Garrabrant family's neighboring property in Wheatland Township near Plainfield Tuesday, June 19, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:31PM
JOLIET — Rooting out a nest of illegal chickens in Wheatland Township isn’t proving to be easy for Will County officials.
Three different chicken owners who live in a subdivision near 135th Street and Naperville/Plainfield Road were cited by the county in recent months for having backyard chicken coops. One chicken owner has since removed the creatures.
“They are at an undisclosed location,” Paddock said, prompting committee members to joke that the fowl were in the witness protection program.
The second chicken owner went before the county’s administrative adjudicator and was allowed to keep the chickens, even though the homeowner is still in violation of the county’s zoning ordinance, Paddock said. That matter may be appealed to the circuit court for review, he said.
Finally, the third chicken owner, who has asked to annex into the village of Plainfield, will come before the administrative adjudicator later this month, Paddock said. Annexations procedures can be so slow, it doesn’t behoove the county to wait for the process to be resolved, Paddocks said.
Under current zoning ordinances, the homeowners cannot have chickens on residential lots. However, starting Oct. 1, when the county’s new zoning ordinance goes into effect, the homeowners could have chickens if they apply for a special-use permit.
None of the Wheatland Township residents has done so so far, which means they will remain in violation if they have chickens, and they could be fined, Paddock said.
Committee Chairman Tom Weigel, R-New Lenox, and Kathleen Konicki, R-Homer Glen, were in favor of lowering the special use permit fee for people who want to own chickens from $675 to $50.
But the measure failed by a vote of 5-2 after Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Guzman said charging chicken owners less than people who want to own miniature goats or pigs, which also is allowed by the new ordinance, could cause the county legal problems down the road.
Brian Smith, R-Plainfield, said although “chicken people” have complained to him the permits cost “an arm and a wing,” he remained in favor of keeping the permit high so the county could recoup its administrative costs.
In the past, chickens were allowed on agriculturally zoned lots without a permit and on residential lots as small as 40,000 square feet with a permit.
The new ordinance would allow chickens and other mini-farm animals on lots as small as 12,500 square feet as long as the homeowner gets a permit. Other requirements also must be met. For instance, there can be only one chicken per 2,500 square feet.
While chickens will be more welcome in Will County residential areas starting Oct. 1, roosters are still banned because they’re too noisy, Paddock added.